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Needle Points: Positive Vibrations.

April 22, 2014

NeedlePointsKMonline08Text by Brian Wilensky. Images by Kate McCann.

A beach is the preferred place to get away on a vacation for lots of people. Needle Points would rather have an entire island.

“It’s an island in your mind,” lead singer Colin Holloway says about their first album’s title, Bom Tugangu. “It’s a happy place.”

By the sounds of it, the album could have been inspired by a wild psychedelic trip. But it actually came from something more natural than that. The five-piece band had only been playing their jangly garage freak-outs for a few months when one day, they decided to bring their four-track recorder into the basement where they practice. It was just to make a demo to help get them more shows. However, that live recording turned out to be their first full-length.

Ironically, the band has been building a studio in their West Philly home. Guitarist and singer Dave Ulrich says he spent a couple grand on it since this past summer to get it decked out with a giant mixing board, reel-to-reel machine and even a full-size, homemade vocal booth. The studio’s walls are covered almost entirely with tapestries, blankets, Christmas lights, art and instruments, creating a vibe that is a reflection of the band’s long-haired Summer of Love aesthetic.

But there’s a deeper connection between the band members that seems ever-present, almost spiritual. It’s a relationship Ulrich describes as idyllic. And the band knows how to bring that connection into their live performances.

“We have done some weird stuff,” drummer Jordan Kaplan admits. “We [sometimes] start them off with a meditation, an interaction with the audience sort of the thing. We actually have done that in seriousness too and felt more unified.”

Kaplan shares the role as drummer with Danielle Kinoshita. They play standing and facing each other so that they can communicate and play off the deep chemistry Kaplan says they have. Kinoshita only picked up the drums when asked to join the band.

“Danielle travels a lot for work so we’ve had real drummers fill in,” Kaplan adds. “But it never works. Whatever she does is perfect.”

Needle Points make it a point not to overplay on Bom Tugangu. They each agree that the only “shredder” in the band is bassist and singer, Brian Langan. There isn’t need for flashy solos or extended bridges – the strength of the six-song LP is in the grooves. From the loose “I Drink Rainfall,” jammy “Biting at the Rose,” which will nearly send your stylus flying off the turntable and the pure power stance rock ‘n’ roll of “Woven Wild,” Bom Tugangu is an exploration of lo-fi simplicity.

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See Needle Points Saturday at Underground Arts with Plastic Little and Sweatheart for only $3. Click the image for ticket details.

“It feels like the band playing live,” Langan says. “When you listen to it, it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s us.’”

Since the first record came naturally to them and even quicker than expected, they’re ready to spend some real time recording their next record, which puts the studio Ulrich has been building to use. And they’re unafraid of abandoning their live, lo-fi basement recording to move upstairs.

“You can make a million garage records in a row and after a while you’re just like, ‘Eh,’” Ulrich says. “All the old school bands I know and love have matured and explored, and I think we’re ready to do that.”

A long-term goal of theirs is to use the studio to become a full-functioning record label under the name Need Love. In fact, Bom Tugangu was technically its first release.

“We have a lot of friends who are in the same place as us – making music or doing their own thing,” Ulrich says about helping record other albums. “We didn’t have anyone to release our record, so we just decided to do it ourselves.”

The band collectively agrees that releasing it themselves was a good idea, Langan adds, “We could’ve spent another year shopping it around and would have been on someone else’s schedule and gotten sick of it and given up on it.”

The positive energy and good vibes that have brought Needle Points this far are what they believe will keep them moving forward, too.

“We have this understanding that your attitude is what manifests everything in this world,” Kaplan says. “And I think we’ve all come to this place where we all just have this attitude that we embody what we want. Then it sort of manifests. I think that represents the band, and hopefully this studio thing and where we want to be.

“We’re not trying to do it. We are it.”

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